BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

New Spacesuit Technology?

RickP http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fruit_fly_larva_01.jpg

In a recent experiment, scientists have discovered a way in which to bombard fruit fly larvae with electrons, which form a “nano-suit” around their bodies protecting them from harmful space-like vacuums. This new discovery is very interesting because it could lead to the possible invention of new space suits for humans while also giving us video¬†imaging into the organs of small organisms such as larvae.

The reason why these scientists were experimenting with these larvae were to figure out how to photograph them with enough resolution to capture the muscle cells of the organism. This process, however, is a deadly one. The microscope used in photographing these organisms need a vacuum because air molecules absorb the electrons that the camera needs to take the picture. Without this suit, the larvae simply collapse of dehydration. Takahiko Hariyama of the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine bombarded the larvae with the cameras electrons before placing it in the scanning electron microscope and the larvae survived for an hour. They discovered that the electrons’ energy changed the skin of the larvae, forming a protective barrier through polymerization. This layer of 50-100 billionths thick, protected the larvae from losing its liquids and gasses.

This technology is still in its early stages and could take years before scientists can find a way to use it. People hypothesize that one day we might be able to create a layered suit as thin as this that can protect us from radiation in space. I am very excited to see how this technology progresses in the next few years.

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1 Comment

  1. danasaurus

    This is a very cool article! It is crazy to think that the electrons added could form a “nano-suit” to protect the larvae. This discovery, which benefits not only the experimenters but the larvae, is a interesting step forward for research. Perhaps we could find a way to make the new skin layer last longer and protect the larvae even better. Here is an article I read on how the energy from the electron beam cross-links with the extra cellular substance to form the tough polymer that forms the new skin: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/04/polymer-nano-suit-insects-safe-vacuum

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